The Secret

Fredrik from Sweden writes:

“Hello Kurma! Thank you for a great website! I have a question for you. I would be very grateful if you took the time to answer it.

Can you give me some good advice in how to deep-fry something successfully? When I make pakoras for example, the first ones always seem to be alright, but the ones I make after that always seem to be unsuccessful. The batter doesn’t stick on to the vegetable. And my kofta-balls can sometimes fall apart. What am I doing wrong? I suppose it’s the heat, but is it too warm or too cold?”

mixed vegetable kofta:

My reply:

The batter does not stick on your subsequent batches because the oil has not been allowed to return to its optimum heat. When you fry a batch of things, the oil temperature drops somewhat. After you remove a batch of fried things from the oil, you have to wait at least 3 minutes (or more, depending on the intensity of the heat and the oil depth) until the oil has returned again to the optimum frying heat, which in the case of pakoras is between 185 and 190 degrees celcius. This is the secret.

You might also note that leaving chunks of vegetables floating around in the batter between batches (especially eggplant and capsicum varieties) will adversely affect the batter quality, because the salt in the batter will draw out undesirable fluids from the vegetables which will leach into the batter.

Also, for the crispiest pakoras, add the water to the dry flour and spices mixture just before you are ready to fry. Especially if there is any wheat flour in the mix, leaving it standing will activate the gluten in it and it will quickly lose its abilty to go crisp when fried. That is why Japanese Tempura batter is mixed the very moment before dipping and frying. Using very cold water in the batter makes them even crispier.

tempura:

Regarding kofta cooking, the technique is quite different. Firstly, mix the dry spice and flour mix with the vegetables only when you are ready to fry and the oil is on the stove. Roll them and immediately add them to the hot oil. If you leave raw vegetable kofta sitting around, the salt starts to immediately draw moisture and they go very soft and hard to fry.

Most importantly, you have to put them in very hot oil to start with – to seal them – and soon as they seal and slightly colour, turn the oil temperature right down and cook them slowly to allow them to cook right though, till they darken – at least 10 minutes. Timing and temperature is everything when you deep-fry. And practice makes perfect.
Posted by Kurma on 17/4/07; 4:39:56 AM

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